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  1. It’s Happy Hour! Happy “Bedtime†Hour: 10–11pm. Time to be in bed within that hour.Happy “Career†Hour: 10am–12pm. Time to work on advancing my career during those hours.Happy “Fitness†Hour: 7–8pm. Time to exercise during that hour.Any career work/exercise that furthers the goal is game.We’re mostly through Week 2 already, so it’s high time for this! Go!
  2. (i.e. “if you still don’t feel like doin’ it, raise the stakesâ€) The stuff I don’t feel like doing Working out: Going to martial arts class is second nature, but working out at home in my room? Eh. Workout goals: Convict Conditioning "Veterano" program, minus the rest day and handstand pushups, with at least one set at my current exercise level. Eat well: I'm already scrawny, and I tend to skip breakfast. Eating goals: Eat at least three meals per day. Also, gather recipes while watching my parents cook. Sleep: All those prejudices about gamers and TV watchers and sleep… they’re all true. And once I then oversleep and wake up at 1pm, I miss breakfast, adding to that sore point as well. Sleeping goals: Rise by 7:30am, sleep by 10:30pm; if I’m out at 10:30pm, sleep as soon as I’m back. The stakes My “student lifeâ€: I’ve been unemployed since Jan 2014, living at home with my parents. My parents agreed to support my search for a Ph.D. position through 2014, and afterwards, I had agreed to look into the (non-academic) job market. During Dec 2014, they agreed to extend this support until the then-recent application in Austria came through. (Which it did, earlier today: “no.â€) Once my parents remember that my student “lease†has expired, my student life as I know it is probably over. My “savingsâ€: I have upcoming expenses to pay by April, which I can only barely cover. And without an income, I’m pretty much stuck being broke. My “innocenceâ€: I’ve never baked a cake before. And I’d rather not try. Which makes it a perfect punishment. So, I pledge that if I don’t follow through with my goals, I’m going to bake two cakes, without asking for help: one for my family, and one for the Courier. The thing that’s different this time so that I don’t repeat the same mistakes This search for Ph.D. positions and my applications to those? I’m making it a proper job. Complete with scheduled work/break hours, dedicated time tracking, and reports to my CEO (i.e. my parents). I have sequencing rules for my activities, both to help turn some of them into a ritual and to otherwise make sure everything is considered. Those rules are: No shower before working out. No breakfast before shower. No “screens†before breakfast. No email before the first Ph.D. position search. No lunch before the first email check. No “soft†work before lunch. (“Hard†work is either searching for or writing an application for a Ph.D. position. “Soft†work is any other work that will indirectly help me get such a position, e.g. preparing a portfolio of projects, or rearranging my C.V.) No “clock out†without posting on the NF forums. (That’s still a major flaw of mine.) As a programmer, I can write tools to help me with my compliance. One such tool would be an automatic shutdown at 10:15pm. It’s currently in development. And I have ideas for how to technologically enforce rules #4–6.
  3. In continuation of the last challenge thread. See also how it began. TL;DR version at the bottom. Book 4 – Prologue "Enjoy your stay.", the jailer said as he locked the door behind me. And, as he walked away, he added "Hehe… this never gets old." I looked around. Everything in here just screamed "prison cell". Grey walls, a bunk, a basin and a toilet, all of which looked like they hadn't been cleaned in years. Yep, this definitely was a prison cell if anything. Which really was quite fine… …except that I wasn't supposed to be in prison, I was supposed to be in an asylum! And heck, I wasn't even really supposed to be there either! Why the hell was I here?! What had I done wrong?! "Hmmmmm…", I heard a voice grumble. Feeling quite uneasy about what I just heard, I turned to the cell to my left, where I had heard the voice from. A gruff-looking guy with scars along his face and pretty dirty teeth was smiling at me. But not in the good way. " "Oh crap. I backed off from the wall as far as I could. "Here, boy! Here, boy!" Suddenly… "Aaagh!", the guy screamed, clutching his neck. "What the— ugh." And then he collapsed. "Just in time, eh?", a voice from behind me said. I turned to the back wall and saw Emma smiling at me through the cell window bars. "Emma! What are you doing here?" "Tracking you down, sweetcheeks. And I should be the one asking. How did you end up in the Rangus Asylum?" "Beats me. They just said something about me not having my sanity, then they dumped me here without telling me what they meant or letting me say anything to my defense." "Oh. Yeah, the Rangus Asylum is known to do that." "Really?" "They check others for signs of lunacy, and if they find any, then they lock you up. Simple. Thing is, the 'signs' they use aren't really signs of lunacy at all… If anything, they are the lunatics here. But since they have weapons, and they look like legitimate guards, they use their power to lock up whomever they can get a hold of… before the others know who they're dealing with." "Ugh, great. So you're saying they're a bunch of criminals appearing to be law enforcement?" "Pretty much, yeah." "So I didn't do anything wrong?" "Nope." "Then I gotta get out of here." "No kidding. Not at least because of the neighbors you have here." "Say, what did you do to him anyway? Is he dead?" "Oh, no, just unconscious. A fast-acting toxin, but ultimately non-lethal. …well, I can't guarantee it in an environment full of dangerous people like this one, but normally it just knocks you out for about a day or two." "But how did you administer the toxin? I didn't see anything." "A very thin needle, and my trusty blowpipe." "A blowpipe?" "I never leave home without it. You don't have one, sweetcheeks?" "Of course not. I'm not a ninja." "You mean: not yet." "Yeah, well, if I ever want to live long enough to even start my ninja training, I first gotta get out of here." "Oh sweetcheeks…", Emma grinned at me. "Ever so young and naïve…" "What's that supposed to mean?", I asked. "Your ninja training began the instant you entered this cell." "Wait, what?!" "Listen up, student! Your next task as a ninja trainee… is to escape from the Rangus Asylum. You have six weeks." "Whaaaaaaaaat?! Emma, this is serious! Now's not the time to make a game out of this." "Au contraire, monsieur. This is precisely the time to make a game out of it. Because the last thing we need is you freezing up in fear of not managing to escape, and ultimately failing to escape because of that fear. Or worse, get yourself killed that way." "But I—" "No buts." "But how—" "You'll have to figure that out by yourself." "Wait, does that mean you're not helping me?" "Yes and no. Yes, I'm helping you escape, but no, I'm not going to actively step in until you screw up big time. I'll be playing your safety net, so to speak. But you'll have to do all the work yourself." "Why…?" "Because I'm sure you got into this mess by yourself. Knowing you, you didn't even try to disarm the guards when they started being rough with you. You gotta stop thinking that ultimately nobody wants to hurt you, because there are a bunch of people out there who actually do." "…" "You know, you should be happy. This is real hands-on ninja training. I've been locked up many times now, and I've had to escape by myself each time too. This is the real-deal. It doesn't get any more applied than this." "Emma, you're gonna get me killed!" "I told you, sweetcheeks, I'll step in before anyone gets a chance to do that." "Ugh. You can't be serious." "I am." "*sigh* I realize. But I'm still hoping this all turns out to be a bad dream." "Well, I hope you come to terms with reality soon, sweetcheeks. It's coming close to lights out time. And in an asylum, lights out means lights out. No ifs, whens or buts. At least you'll be getting some decent sleep… once you're good enough at shutting out the screams." "D:" "Same thing for waking up. Lights on is lights on. There's no 'please just five more minutes' thing." "D:" "Oh, and since you have lots of free time, and quite a bit of space, I expect you to continue your strength training. You'll probably need it to survive here." "D:" "Well then, that's all the guidance I can give you for now. Except maybe one more tip: the guards have no freaking clue who's locked up where. If you need to go undetected for a while, just enter the nearest empty cell. Or even a shared cell, if you're sure your cellmates won't tell on you." "Emma, this isn't 'Assassin's Creed'." "No, but it's close enough to it. You'll be missing out on Eagle Vision, but that's just about it." "…" "Right. The patrol is coming around in a few minutes, so I'm off. And don't worry too much, sweetcheeks. I'm not bailing you out of here precisely because you gotta learn to swim by yourself. And because I know that you don't really need me to help you here." "Oh. Uh, thanks." "Anytime, sweetcheeks. Now, go show them what it means to be a Monk of the Rebellion! And my student!" "Yes, ma'am!" Emma got up and stepped away, but turned back one more time. "Oh, and when you're out, I expect you to do 30 push-ups for not calling me 'coach' three times. Got it?" Oh, what the— ugh. "Aye-aye, Coach!" End of prologue Author's comments: The usual "yada yada yada" about creative freedom and such. And I've never been to an asylum or a prison before… at least not outside of video games and TV shows. TL;DR: challenge goals Baseline goals Go to bed by 12am midnight. No ifs, whens or buts. Lights out means lights out.Wake up by 9am and get ready straight away. That means brushing teeth, taking shower, shaving and having breakfast. If I genuinely oversleep despite going to bed by 12am, no matter… provided I still get ready straight away.Do bodyweight strength training (the Convict Conditioning workout programs) 3 times a week. Usually on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.Additional optional challenges Low- or medium-intensity workout on rest days. Stretching, martial arts form practice, Tai Chi… whatever I can think of. The point is to get into the habit of doing exercise every day, not necessarily to progress in those exercises.Write one blawg post per week. What kind of blawg only has one post? A dead blawg. Who wants to own a dead blawg? No one.Keep my backlog below five days. Post progress updates here more regularly, instead of two weeks worth of updates in a single post. Hopefully this will free up time to read (and comment on) other people's threads too.Post an act of book 4 at least once every two weeks. Need to keep the story going. But my blawg needs more of my attention, so I'm not committing to anything more than this.Motivation I'm tired of running (what should be) the minutiae of my life on auto-pilot before having taught my auto-pilot how to fly. Why the "escapes from the asylum" theme? My last challenge (“Multiplexingâ€) failed, and I lost my timetable during that challenge. By losing my timetable, I lost my sanity. In my last mini-challenge (“redeeming my sanityâ€), I didn't regain my sanity. So I don't have my sanity anymore. I thus conclude that I am by definition insane. And that's how I ended up in the asylum. Also, I'm breaking out because I don't like it here. It's the color, ya know?
  4. In which M, a.k.a. the 13th letter, puts the disappointments of the predecing challenge #3 (the “pastâ€) behind himself and strives to re-reach the state of sanity he experienced during the better days of challenges #1 and #2 (the “golden daysâ€). Specifically, while the past went markedly different than the golden days, there is one striking difference between them: I actually had a semblance of a timetable. I was a student during the golden days, and just before the past, I transitioned to unemployed, obliterating whatever shards of a timetable I had left. And now, without any structure or rhythm to my days, every task turns into a "eh, maybe I'll do it now… or later… or tomorrow". We both know this doesn't truly work, like, ever. So, for this mini-challenge, I vow to adhere to a timetable, and through this timetable I hope to regain my rhythm, and through this rhythm I hope to regain my sanity. Specifically, here are the cornerstones of my timetable: Go to bed by 12am (midnight). I regularly stay awake beyond that, mostly for frivolous reasons. Be ready for the day by 11am. "Being ready" means showered, shaved, dressed and fed. And though I'm actually setting an alarm for 9am, I expect it to take a while for me to get used to not oversleeping anymore. I will award myself 1 point per full hour before 11am that I am ready. Stick to whatever tasks from “the past†I plan to do today. I'm continuing the work, though at a lower frequency. And here are the rewards: If I successfully stick to my timetable for all 13 days (Dec 24th through Jan 5th), I shall mark my challenge #3 as successful. If I additionally collect 13 points from being ready early, then I'll treat myself, somehow. I haven't decided yet on what. Well then, now that everything's settled, there's only one thing left to do: Let's get dangerous!
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